SPORTS_NHL---Courtesy-Bridget-Samuels
Courtesy Bridget Samuels

NHL rookie scoring race off to hot start

By Sonny Sachdeva, October 27 2015 —

After a summer of endless discussion about the potential of rookie scoring phenom Connor McDavid, the young centreman hasn’t disappointed. Drafted first-overall by the Edmonton Oilers last June, McDavid has already amassed nine points through the first nine games of his career, leading all first-year NHL skaters in scoring.

But he isn’t the only rookie putting up impressive numbers. The NHL’s 2015–16 rookies are already establishing themselves as one of the finest in recent memory, and a handful of players all look likely to finish this season as legitimate, consistent scorers.

Jack Eichel — drafted second-overall by the Buffalo Sabres this summer — figured to be McDavid’s most likely challenger in 2015–16, given the hype built around the two leading up to the 2015 draft. However, while Eichel looks promising, his three points in nine games have him looking unable to keep pace with McDavid.

The same can’t be said for Arizona Coyotes duo Max Domi and Anthony Duclair. While both forwards entered the season as promising young talents, it was widely assumed that the price of playing on a mediocre Coyotes team would be a similarly mediocre season from the two rookies. But Domi and Duclair have scored a combined 16 points through the first eight games of the season.

Domi — son of former Toronto Maple Leafs enforcer Tie Domi — leads the way with nine total points while Duclair’s five goals are tied for the most among rookies.

Chicago’s Artemi Panarin is also making noise in the rookie scoring race, sitting with eight points in nine games so far, as is highly touted Detroit Red Wings prospect Dylan Larkin, with seven points to his name.

The rookie resurgence represents a noted shift from last year’s young crop, which featured far fewer elite scorers. Calgary Flames’ winger Johnny Gaudreau led the way for much of the season, battling Nashville’s Filip Forsberg for top rookie honours. By the season’s end, Ottawa’s Mark Stone had joined the fray, finishing tied with Gaudreau for the rookie points lead.

The Flames hope this year’s rookie scoring trend continues in their own locker room as Sam Bennett navigates his first full NHL campaign. The Flames drafted Bennett fourth-overall in 2014 and watched the 19-year-old became one of their best players during his debut in the midst of the 2015 playoffs.

Now completing his true rookie season, Bennett has yet to break out offensively through his first handful of games. However, after compiling 115 points over his last two seasons of junior hockey, it’s clear Bennett remains one of the most promising young scorers in the game, and the young pivot should have all the tools to make a notable dent in the rookie scoring race as the season progresses.

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